Phenom in the Big Apple
Washington’s rookie sensation Robert Griffin III has took the league by storm. This Sunday, defending Super Bowl Champion New York gets their first crack at the amazing RGIII.
Thursday Night Football, October 18 8:20 PM ET – TV: NFL Network
Seattle Seahawks 4-2 @ San Francisco 49ers 4-2
“We believe we have a great ballclub and we believe we can play with anybody,” Seattle defensive back Richard Sherman said. “NFL Network and all of these pundits think they know everything and we keep shutting them up week, by week, by week, by week.” That’s key with Pete Carroll’s team that has a young ball-hawking defense, and a rookie quarterback that is starting to trust his receivers more by throwing the deep ball. The 49ers defensive front better have a huge turnaround from last week’s lack-luster performance. The kid won’t be afraid to take shots downfield anymore. And I would assume San Francisco’s defensive coordinator Vic Fangio got a nice message from coach Harbaugh to get the defense ready to punch, kick and ‘Layeth The Smackdown’ on Russell Wilson. Pick:
49ers 20, Seahawks 13.
Final Score: 49ers (5-2) 13, Seahawks (4-3) 6
Sunday, October 21
1:00 PM ET
Tennessee Titans 2-4 @ Buffalo Bills 3-3 – TV: CBS
Buffalo’s defense has been dreadful against the run, and the matchup they face this weekend upstate New York can come at a punishing price, if they allow Tennessee’s Chris Johnson to get in the open field. The defense did show some positive signs last week in Arizona, however. Mario Williams and Nick Barnett both had two sacks, and Jairus Byrd had two interceptions, the second came in overtime to set up the game winning kick. More turnovers will happen if the big bucks the front office spent on revamping the D-Line can become a consistent group. Pick: Bills 22, Titans 17.
Washington Redskins 3-3 @ N.Y. Giants 4-2 – TV: FOX
The Giants get their first taste of Washington’s rookie sensation Robert Griffin III. The Giants defensive front that stumped Alex Smith and the 49ers on the road last week, clearly have a much more difficult task trying to contain the most mobile quarterback in the game. It’s scary how quick Griffin is grasping the game and leading Mike Shanahan’s team. But here’s something frightening, the Giants offensive line kept Eli Manning clean against a dominant 49er pass-rush, something no one else has been able to do. And if you can’t get after Eli, he will dissect any defense with his mass weapons of receivers led by Victor Cruz, who I see doing a salsa dance or two in a shootout win for the G-Men. Pick: N.Y. Giants 37, Redskins 27.
New Orleans Saints 1-4 @ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 2-3 – TV: FOX
Josh Freeman and Tampa Bay’s resurgent offense looks to take advantage of a struggling Saints defense with Vincent Jackson and Mike Williams, two receivers that are a huge reason why the Buccaneers are second in the league averaging 14 yards per catch. That’s the positive side of things for Tampa. The negative side is not having cornerback Aqib Talib who was suspended for four games for using Adderall. Not looking good for Tampa if they have to put an aged Ronde Barber on Marques Colston with Drew Brees looking his way the entire afternoon. Pick: Saints 27, Buccaneers 23.
Dallas Cowboys 2-3 @ Carolina Panthers 1-4 – TV: FOX
Alarming statistic for the Dallas defense and something defensive coordinator Rob Ryan should be extremely concerned about with his unit, it took Baltimore only 19:57 to do everything they needed to do offensively to muster 24 points, excluding Jacoby Jones’ kick return. The Dallas offense gave the defense plenty of rest time as they controlled time of possession for 40:03. That’s the problem with this team and why they’re inconsistent. When the defense plays good, the offense stumbles, and when the offense is in gear, the defense allows big plays. And as bad as the Panthers have been this season, I wouldn’t dare to say they don’t have a chance at home against the shaky Cowboys that will be without running back DeMarco Murray (sprained foot). Dallas will have to sweat this one out. Pick: Cowboys 27, Panthers 23.
Baltimore Ravens 5-1 @ Houston Texans 5-1 – TV: CBS
In a rematch of last year’s AFC Divisional Playoff, a game Baltimore defeated Houston 20-13 with the help of Ray Lewis and Lardarius Webb on defense, the Ravens won’t have them both in the lineup Sunday due to injury. Lewis, a future Hall of Fame linebacker suffered a torn right triceps, ending his season. Webb tore his left ACL and is also done for the year. The Texans defense lost linebacker Brian Cushing due a torn ACL, and not having him in the lineup last week showed a negative sign for the Texans defense that got smoked by Green Bay. Ultimately, the main focus and difference makers in this matchup will be Baltimore’s Ray Rice and Houston’s Arian Foster, both running backs that can do it all that should get a heavy workload. Baltimore’s passing game has more volume going than Houston’s, and in all five of Baltimore’s wins, Joe Flacco has connected big with Torrey Smith. But here’s the problem for Baltimore’s defense that allowed over 200 yards rushing last week to Dallas. Haloti Ngata is banged up and that’s hurting the defensive line. They’ll need him at 100% to stuff the run to slow down Arian Foster, and he’s not. Pick: Texans 31, Ravens 27.
Cleveland Browns 1-5 @ Indianapolis Colts 2-3 – TV: CBS
The one thing between both rookie quarterbacks that I think Cleveland’s Brandon Weeden has an upper leg on Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck is having a running game. Trent Richardson is showing signs of becoming an all-purpose running back. Richardson not only leads the team in rushing, he also leads the team with 22 receptions becoming a reliable option on screens and dunk passes for Weeden. I’m not saying that I think Weeden is the better quarterback here with a brighter future than Luck. A quarterback’s best friend is a reliable running back. But when a defense knows that the running back is the only threat, you bring extra defenders in the box. That’s what Indianapolis’ defense will do forcing Weeden to throw more than handing off the football to Richardson. In this case, Luck has the advantage throwing the football to Reggie Wayne. Pick: Colts 21, Browns 17.
Green Bay Packers 3-3 @ St. Louis Rams 3-3 – TV: FOX
Aaron Rodgers silenced his critics with a six touchdown pass performance last week, and the Packers defense slowed Houston’s Arian Foster to only 29 yards rushing in their blowout win on prime time television. The Rams know they have to play keep away by establishing the run with Steven Jackson controlling the clock. Jackson is only averaging 3.6 yards per carry. That number has to go up, and what’s more concerning is Jackson has yet to visit the endzone. Sounds to me like an easy game planning week for Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers. Pick: Packers 34, Rams 17.
Arizona Cardinals 4-2 @ Minnesota Vikings 4-2 – TV: FOX
Arizona has no running game, Minnesota does with Adrian Peterson. Minnesota also has better things going for them at quarterback with Christian Ponder. John Skelton will start for the injured Kevin Kolb at quarterback for Arizona. And you can bank on Minnesota’s defensive end Jared Allen to make his afternoon a miserable one. Pick: Vikings 24, Cardinals 13.
4:25 PM ET
N.Y. Jets 3-3 @ New England Patriots 3-3 – TV: CBS
The Jets defense has been dreadful against the run allowing 150 yards per game. When I look at this matchup, I can’t see anything New York’s defense can do to slow down the league’s top rated offense that will use a mixture of both the run and pass going no-huddle. Not a good matchup for Rex Ryan’s Jets. Pick: Patriots 31, N.Y. Jets 14.
Jacksonville Jaguars 1-4 @ Oakland Raiders 1-4 – TV: CBS
Jaguars offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey needs to start planning on getting rookie receiver Justin Blackmon going. I question Jacksonville’s point of attack. Yes, Maurice Jones-Drew is the main man on offense, but how is second year quarterback Blaine Gabbert going to blossom if you leave the training wheels on him? And there’s a big reason why they drafted Blackmon to give this team a possible future threat at receiver. Somebody please ring the bell, the Jags are sleeping. Pick: Raiders 26, Jaguars 16.
Sunday Night Football in America 8:20 PM ET – TV: NBC
Pittsburgh Steelers 2-3 @ Cincinnati Bengals 3-3
A banged up Steelers defense could get linebacker LaMarr Woodley (left hamstring) back, but most likely will be without safety Troy Polamalu (calf) in a much needed division win on the road in Cincinnati. The Steelers defense is clearly not as good without Polamalu at safety to cover the deep pass, something Andy Dalton and the Bengals passing attack will look to exploit. Cincinnati will be able to find holes in the Steelers secondary. I like Pittsburgh’s offense to be able to do the same, and you can always trust Ben Roethlisberger in these must win games to be dynamite on third down. That’s when he’s at his best. Pick: Steelers 29, Bengals 24.
Monday Night Football, October 22 8:30 PM ET – TV: ESPN
Detroit Lions 2-3 @ Chicago Bears 4-1
When defenses don’t respect the run, you see lots of zone coverage and hardly any man-to-man on the backend. Detroit’s running game doesn’t spark any threat to a defense, and it won’t be any threat to a Bears defense that’s playing outstanding football. Veteran cornerback Charles Tillman has a pick six in two straight games leading a veteran defensive unit that’s creating turnovers on a consistent basis. The Bears will play cover two keeping everything underneath, forcing Matthew Stafford to move the football with short passes. So advantage Bears defense in this one, a much more fundamentally sound group than Detroit’s to make things difficult for the opposition’s quarterback. Pick: Bears 26, Lions 17.
Bye: Atlanta 6-0, Denver 3-3, Kansas City 1-5, Miami 3-3, Philadelphia 3-3, San Diego 3-3